Thursday, June 17, 2010

The NFL Network's big chill

A friend of a friend commented that I rarely mention the NFL Network these days, and wondered if my interests had changed. He said he could tell I am watching more FoodNetwork than NFL Network these days. He wondered if this was a permanent change in interests or if I would blog about the NFL Network again during the regular season.

Well... The perception is a bit off, but there are many grains of truth there. There is also an interesting blog post found in this conversation.

You probably have noted that there are more ESPN references lately than NFL Network references. I am watching more NFL Live than NFL Total Access these days. Is that just because it is the off season?

No. Let me tell you about it.

There was a cleavage between me and the NFL Network during the 2010 draft campaign. I bet you know what caused it, too! Or do ya?

During the run up to the 2010 NFL Draft, I realized several very unhappy truths about the NFL Network. Specifically, I realized that this is the official propaganda mouth piece of the 32 front-offices and also HQ. Notice I did not use the term teams. I used the term front-offices. There is a big distinction there which I am well aware of. I chose my terms carefully and with reason. I mean to say exactly what I wrote.

Perhaps I am just a slow and dull old boy, but I had formerly considered sources such as Mike Mayock, Charley Casserly reliable and brutally honest. I knew some guys on the network were glad-handlers; Steve Marucci comes to mind. However, to the very last man, I watched each one of these guys change their tune regarding Sam Bradford and the Devaney-agenda.

When the draft began Charley Casserly was adamant that you never push a guy up the board because he fits a need. He vehemently defended drafting the best athlete regardless of position. He sited case after case showing that the worst busts happen when you reach for a guy because of need. He was opposed by coach Jim Mora Jr. who said that was a management position, and coaches get fired quick because of one or two missing players at key positions of need.

Casserly began the 2010 draft cycle insisting that Gerald McCoy was the #1 pick in the draft. He didn't like Bradford because of his injuries and his background in the Spread-Offense. I saw him do a dramatic about-face during the process. Why? Because Bradford stood on the side-line during the combine with his arms folded? On the strength of just one controlled workout? Was that it?

I have--in pure digital--Mike Mayock declaring that 2010 was a bad QB year. "All the QBs are injured and questionable for one reason or another," he said. I watched him do a dramatic about-face and support Devaney with the bullshit-line "a franchise quarterback trumps all." Early in the process, he said he didn't believe there were any franchise QBs in the 2010 draft. The closest thing to it was Sam Bradford, and he was much more than uncertain about Sam.

Why did Mike Mayock change his mind? Because Bradford stood on the side-line during the combine with his arms folded? On the strength of just one controlled workout? Was that it?

Folks, I could go on. There are many more dramatic examples of dramatic about-faces inside the NFL Network regarding Sam Bradford. Were there a good reasons for this dramatic about-face? Hell no!

There was a very bad reason for this about-face. Billy Devaney informed the NFL Network--off the record--that he was going to take Sam Bradford. He probably gave Adam Schefter this news also. This is why Adam Schefter gave us this news with total conviction, early on, when that seemed like a preposterous story. Of course, they would never admit they knew. This is for the same reason the old WWF would not admit that wrestling was scripted entertainment. This would blow the illusion.

As I have stated several times lately, the NFL Network has a promotional function. This promotional function is the primary function of the NFL Network. This leads us right into the pages of MIT Professor of Linguistics Noam Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent." We should give some credit to Edward S. Herman also. He co-wrote the book.

"Manufacturing Consent" examines the propaganda model of the media. The thesis is pretty simple: Mass media supports large corporate and governmental interests. They have too. This is the side their bread is buttered on. This apparatus is used to form a soft-grip control on public opinion. It is a subtle, non-violent, means of evangelism and persuasion used to get people on board with the decisions big bosses are making at higher levels. Of course, this is better than the violent means of coercion used by totalitarian societies, but it is so unfortunate that weak minded fools repeat anything they hear through "authoritative news sources".

Everything Chomsky said in this book and movie applies triple-force to the NFL Network. I think the NFL Network was founded after Paul Tagliabue saw "Manufacturing Consent" and cried-out in joy "Eureka!"

I noted all of the elements of this propaganda model operating on the NFL Network during the 2010 draft campaign. These techniques and tactics were employed to get Rams fans on-board with Devaney's decision to draft a quarterback, and more precisely, Sam Bradford. The NFL Network is still using Chomsky-specific propaganda to do post-sale evangelism on Sam Bradford. Note Steve Wyche's recent use on the Bandwagon technique in fabulous fiction regarding Sam Bradford.

This is no conspiracy theory. The NFL Network is wholly-owned subsidiary of the NFL. It is the NFL. They do the NFL's bidding. This is all out in the open folks. This is no conspiracy. From it's very inception, the NFL Network was designed to be an NFL controlled source of information. You know that.

I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that Devaney knew he was going to make an unpopular and controversial pick when decided he was going to select Sam Bradford. I know that he knew many dedicated fan-forces were arrayed against this decision, and for differing reasons. I know he felt he needed help in persuading these fans to get on his bandwagon. I am certain he went to the NFL Network, gave them off-the-record information (which makes them look like genius analysts on draft day) and (in return) asked for their help in evangelizing Ram-fans.

This is why Mayock changed his tune. This is why Casserly changed his tune. This is why Lombardi said things like "He's drafted linemen in each of the past three years; he can't go back into that locker room and say 'I've drafted another lineman'". This is why you had everyone chanting the pious cant "the Rams need a a QB to give the fans and the team hope for the future."

Am I saying that the NFL Network is the official mouth-piece of the 32 NFL front-offices? Yep. Am I saying it is part of their official function to promote the agenda of the 32 NFL front-offices? Yep. Am I saying that Devaney runs one of those 32 NFL front-offices? Yep. Am I saying a gentileman's agreement was reached? Yep. Am I saying that there was an official directive inside the building to soft-pedal Devaney's agenda? Yep. Am I saying out that they carried out that agenda, among many others? Am I saying that they are currently engaging in post-sales evangelism? Yep.

Right now just about all of the star analysts on the NFL Network are congratulating Devaney on making the right move. We will see if they saying the same thing in 5 years when we may well have destroyed a #1 draft pick kid who we were grotesquely unprepared to receive in camp.